Mary Ellen Kerans, Barcelona, Spain
On practice-based research relevant to editing and translating: lessons learned about titles in clinical medicine, co-authoring and more
This talk has three aims. The first is to highlight the practical application of research findings, the step after publication. I will discuss the content and titling patterns observed in a study of four clinical medicine journals in 20151
and how the results have affected practical decisions I make when translating or editing manuscripts, counseling authors, or revising translations. Early applications have affected the handling of long titles (content reordering, phrasing, and punctuation), the inclusion of results in titles (for journals requiring that information), and the possibility of excluding geographic setting. Our findings also suggested an evidence-based approach to on-the-fly genre research into a journal or discipline’s titling practices: I can suggest where to look for differences and help authors define more quickly what having a “good title” might mean.
The second aim is to discuss why doing practice-based research – and writing it up for publication – is helpful for language supporters working with research publications. Our research project provided insights into data safekeeping, the interpretation of statistics and post-hoc analyses, and the management of drafting and co-authoring. This recent experience with aspects of research writing that often discourage young authors has increased my confidence when advising them, perhaps increased my credibility, and certainly reinforced my empathy. Given that scientists, clinical researchers and other scholars account for a good proportion of clients working directly with language service providers in Mediterranean countries, we have much to gain by doing occasional research similar to theirs.
The third aim is to invite anyone working with biomedical manuscripts to join our next study of titling. New co-authors might suggest subspecialties of interest to them. This work will be done soon because 2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of the first of the clinical research reporting guidelines2 that affect how articles are written today.
1 Kerans ME, Murray A, Sabatè S. Content and phrasing in titles of original research and review articles in 2015: range of practice in four clinical journals. Publications 2016, 4(2), 11; doi: 10.3390/publications4020011.
2 Begg C, Cho M, Eastwood S, Horton R, Moher D, Olkin I, Pitkin R, Rennie D, Schulz KF, Simel D, et al. Improving the quality of reporting of randomized controlled trials. The CONSORT statement. JAMA 1996, 276(8), 637–9. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Mary Ellen Kerans works freelance mainly as a medical translator and authors’ editor in Barcelona. She also works with historical texts or texts in history and occasionally does classroom teaching. Her background in education (MA in TESOL, Teachers College, Columbia University) includes writing instruction and materials development, especially in English for specific purposes (health sciences).